In the last fourteen days, BVMN-member No Name Kitchen have collected testimonies alluding to a spike in pushback violence in the Cetingrad area of the Croatian border with Bosnia-Herzegovina. The veracity of these testimonies is further supplemented with reports from local people and media outlets. The characteristics of this trend in violence have been complex and coordinated assaults by Croatian police, consisting of repetitive baton strikes, lashing and kicking. These tactics leave an indelible mark on returned transit groups, visible in the extensive bruising and lacerations across the legs, torso and upper body of people subject to such violence. First hand testimony of recent pushbacks are examined here, alongside pictures and videos from the HR/BiH border which reveal the deterioration in border violence seen in the last fortnight.
A Trend in Violence
Since the 3rd October 2020, 36 persons were recorded in pushbacks from Croatian territory by BVMN, involving extreme physical assaults in each incident. The recurrence of these attacks at a rural area of green border South West of Velika Kladuša suggest that the violence is the product of a concerted, and well choreographed, effort by the Croatian police to deter transit, and brutalise groups making journeys with the onset of autumn. The spate of brutal attacks in this border area has been corroborated by the Danish Refugee Council via the Guardian newspaper. In a recent article, the outlet profiled the a concurrent series of horrific cases occurring in the border area of Šiljkovača, outside of Velika Kladuša in the last two weeks.
In September, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) documented 40 cases of pushbacks along the Balkan Route and in Greece. This publication analyses how these illegal and violent acts function, and how they impact people-on-the-move. In a month where the European Union released its controversial Pact on Migration and Asylum, the stories of 1548 people recorded by BVMN show how the existing border system is already underpinned by abuse.
The Border Violence Monitoring Network, together with Sea-Watch, has submitted a joint report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee regarding Maltas continued violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The report concludes that despite ratifying the ICCPR, the continued illegal pushback of refugees and migrants carried out by Maltese authorities or third parties contracted by the Maltese government is in contradiction to the obligations set out under international law.